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175 years of mission and ministry

by Candace C. Hill

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Men with a cupWhen the 2012–2013 Presbyterian Planning Calendar arrived, I turned to page 00 to discover the source of the cover photo and other images throughout this year’s planning tool. The first sentence on the page caught my attention:

“2012 marks 175 years of faithful mission and ministry for the General Assembly Mission Council.”

The paragraph continues with a brief history: from the founding of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in 1837 to the lasting legacy of sharing the gospel and love of Christ throughout the world. The description concludes with a challenge for users of the calendar to be inspired to and engaged in deeper discipleship today.

As a person standing on the shoulders and in the shadows of the faithful who fulfilled the call to go, to teach, and to make disciples, I am living the 175 year legacy of Presbyterian mission and ministry. This fact begs me to wrestle with these questions, “What will I do with this gift? How can I share the good news? Where is my mission field?” You can see why the words, as well as the images in the calendar, grabbed me. Maybe you are asking similar questions about your own call to discipleship.

Answers to questions of engagement in mission and ministry unfold in stops and starts, but there are ways to seek guidance and inspiration. Being part of a faith-filled community helps. Practicing faith with others provides opportunities to hear God’s voice through the wisdom of friends. Studying the Bible regularly and discussing stories of God and God’s people allows us to wrestle with our doubts, our fears, and the mystery of God’s presence in our lives. We feel less alone and overwhelmed. Belonging to a group, seeking purpose, and serving passionately, leads us to find our own deeper faith expressions. Joint mission and ministry to our neighbors, our community, and our world enrich us with a Spirit of hope and life.

What will we do with this gift? How will we share the good news? Where are our mission fields? Let us start by faithfully attending worship, engaging in lifelong formation through education, telling people we meet our own story of God’s faithfulness, and volunteering for service opportunities at home and wherever God leads. We are part of the 175 year legacy of Presbyterian mission. Be engaged and inspired!

Candace C. Hill is coordinator of educational ministries through Congregational Ministries Publishing, Theology, Worship, and Education, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).